1. NYC Vaccinations Required
In a first for the nation, New York City will require residents, workers and visitors to show proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination to take part in popular indoor activities like eating in restaurants, working out in gyms and attending New York’s world-famous Broadway shows. The program will start August 16, and will also be in effect for a star-studded outdoor concert August 21 in Central Park. Full enforcement will begin on September 13, when schools are expected to reopen. The program is similar to mandates issued in the European nations of France and Italy last month and is the first for a U.S. city. “If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. “It’s time.” Many cities and states are debating whether to require vaccinations for people to participate in indoor activities or activities that draw large crowds. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to require vaccinations and why some leaders and individuals oppose them even as cases rise from virus variants. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view on whether states and cities should require vaccinations for participating in indoor or large-crowd activities.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. ‘Methane Bomb’
Permafrost is a frozen layer of soil found at or near the Earth’s surface in the coldest regions of the world. In some areas it has been frozen for thousands of years, but global warming is causing it to melt. Some of the results of melting are exciting to scientists: the discovery of frozen mammoths, wolves and even puppies. Others are causing worry and concern. A new study of permafrost in the nation of Russia, for example, has found that warming is not just affecting wetland areas covered in permafrost — it is defrosting rocks as well. And that could make global warming worse by setting off a kind of “methane bomb.” The study in the region of northern Siberia found that warming temperatures are releasing large amounts of the gas methane from frozen limestone at levels that are “much more dangerous” than thought possible. Methane is a “greenhouse gas” that scientists say can have an even bigger impact on global warming than the gas carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels like oil and gasoline. Global warming is having great effects on environments around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, outlining how the change is affecting people, wildlife and the environment and what could be done to reduce the impact.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
3. World Heritage Marvels
World Heritage Sites designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are among the most important in the world for their cultural, historical or environmental value. This year’s list has just been released, and it calls attention to 29 cultural sites all over the world, plus five natural areas. One of the most unusual selections is a combination of culture, science, math and geography. The Chankillo Archaeo-Astronomical Complex in the South American nation of Peru is a prehistoric site built in a desert nearly 2,300 years ago to track the movements of the sun and create a natural solar calendar. Constructed between 250 and 200 BCE, the site includes a triple walled hilltop temple, an observatory, a line of 13 towers used to track sunrises and sunsets and a ceremonial center. Its construction was so precise it could identify solstices, equinoxes and other significant dates with a precision of 1-2 days. To view this year’s entire World Heritage List, click here. World Heritage Sites are chosen by UNESCO because they demonstrate “outstanding universal value” for their cultural importance, history or environmental beauty. In the newspaper or online, find and closely study stories and photos of places that have value to their communities in these ways. Use what you read to write a description of one place as if you were nominating it for recognition as a significant heritage site.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support.
4. Every Penny Counts
People are always looking for unusual ways to help others. Sometimes they are right at your feet. A Pennsylvania woman from the city of Philadelphia found that out when she started to find money on sidewalks and streets when she walked her dogs. The cash was in small amounts, mostly pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. But every time Lisa Phillips saw a coin, she picked it up and put it aside. Soon it was adding up, and she started looking for a way to use it to help others. Then she found a non-profit called RIP Medical Debt, which uses donations to “buy” medical debts owed by poor people and write them off. RIP, which got its start as a collaboration with the Occupy Wall Street movement, buys medical debts from hospitals at reduced rates because they are unlikely to be paid. Because the price of purchasing the debts is discounted, the value of donations can multiply by as much as 100 times. That appealed to Phillips. When she donated $423.82 from coins she had discovered in a year, her donation wiped out more than $42,000 in debt. “It makes it much more gratifying to stoop down and pick up a penny, dirty as it might be, because I know that it’s going to go to a cause that is actually going to [make it] worth one dollar every time I donate,” Phillips told ABC News in Philadelphia. Many people find unusual ways to help people in need. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people trying unusual approaches. Write a letter to a friend describing several unusual efforts and brainstorming unusual ways you and your friend could help others.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Bad Bugs
For 120 years the Orkin company has been one of the world’s leaders in dealing with insects that cause problems for people. In the summer months, that means focusing on one of the biggest insect pests — mosquitoes! Each year as summer begins Orkin issues a list of the “worst cities” for mosquito problems in the nation. This year’s winner — or loser — is Los Angeles, California, which beat out Atlanta, Georgia as the city with the most mosquito issues. The top ranking for Los Angeles was a bit of a surprise, as Atlanta had held the “worst mosquito” title for seven consecutive years. Orkin’s mosquito list ranks the Top 50 metro areas by the number of mosquito customers served in the previous year. Other cities in this year’s “top 10” include Washington, DC; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Miami, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Insects perform many useful tasks for people, but also can be pests. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one useful insect and one pest insect. Use what you read to compare the useful and pest insects — in the form of a dialogue conversation between them.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.